Robertsdale coach and teacher loses house, dog in devastating fire

Several fire crews responded Tuesday around noon.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT
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ELBERTA, Ala. (WALA) - A Robertsdale coach and teacher is left with nothing after a massive fire in Elberta.

Firefighters say the house was fully involved when they got on scene, and to add to the coach’s devastation, his dog was killed.

The homeowner James Fortune works at Robertsdale High School.

He says he got the call at work that his house was on fire and rushed home.

Fire investigators have ruled it a total loss.

Now he’s just trying to cope with the loss of his dog and says he’s left with nothing but the clothes he wore to work that day.

Several fire crews responded Tuesday around noon to Bayshore Drive to the fully engulfed house.

Fortune says he searched for his dog Pirogue but investigators say she died in the fire.

A close friend of Fortune, Jeff Pippin, says he was heartbroken to hear this news.

“It broke my heart because of how much he does for that community and how much he gives,” Pippin said. “And then for him to go through something like this it’s tragic. So anybody that can help needs to.”

Fortune says he’s lived at the house for the last ten years.

And considers Pirogue his best friend.

“He lost everything in the fire but most importantly lost his dog,” Pippin said. “You have to know James to know what that dog meant to him. I love you. And if there’s anything I can ever do I’m here so just reach out.”

Fortune is described as someone who loves his community but more importantly his students.

“The most important thing he does, he loves kids. All day long I would watch kids come to him that he had taught in the past that he made an impact on their life,” Pippen said. “And I think overall no matter what he does outside of the school that’s the most important. He’s made a tremendous impact at that school and in that community.”

There is a GoFundMe if anyone would like to help.